Florence – what to see in the heart of sunny and loved by all tourists Tuscany? Above all, the magnificent architecture, the immense amount of monuments and works of art that we weren’t able even to see during our one-day stay. In Florence, it’s worth getting lost, finding less frequented trails, absorbing its beauty at every corner and just appreciating it because it’s the true queen of Italian cities.
Can you only talk about Florence in superlatives?
It’s not as nice as it looks. Prepare yourself for the crowds of tourists who are pouring out in the streets like a river. After all, who wouldn’t want to see the city of Leonardo da Vinci and Dante Alighieri? Yes, we did not expect empty streets, after all, we were in season and it was a FLORENCE, but what we saw, surprised us. Florence is beautiful, no doubt, but the masses of people who visit it can make us feel tired after a few hours. We understand the full admiration of Florence, for us perhaps at a different time, it would appear to us to be a dream city. At the moment, we are not entirely convinced that we wouldn’t have chosen another way to spend this day. However, we do not regret it.
Florence – what to see in the heart of sunny Tuscany if you have only one day
If you think it is possible to visit Florence in one day, you definitely need to verify your thoughts. Even a few days wouldn’t be enough for this city. We only had one day, so we decided to just wander around the city, absorbing beautiful views, art and climate. We didn’t have a specific plan, except for one mandatory point, which, as it turned out later, was also a mandatory point for all Asians tourists – sunset on Michelangelo’s hill. But let’s start with what is probably the most recognizable element of Florence’s landscape.
Florence and its most beautiful gem – Santa Maria Del Fiore
The most beautiful gem, a symbol of Italian Renaissance, but also of Florence and Italy. Santa Maria Del Fiore – Cathedral of Our Lady of Flowers, delights with the richness of materials, patterns and forms. You can look at its façade for hours, catching newer and newer and more beautiful details. We wanted to buy a ticket and see the dome up close, but… bookings were bought for the whole week ahead. So, if you dream of going up the dome or campanilla, don’t make the same mistake as we did.
What is worth knowing about Santa Maria Del Fiore?
- The entrance to the cathedral itself is free (remember to keep your arms covered!). However, all the rest of the cathedral complex is to be paid for: the bell tower (Giotto’s Campanile), the dome, the baptistery, the museum, and the crypt. The ticket for all those places costs 18 € and is valid for 72 hours from the moment of entering the first attraction. Ticket is a one-time ticket, so we can not enter the same objects several times.
- Reservations for the entrance to the dome are obligatory. If we do not appear at a specific time, the reservation is lost and we lose the possibility to enter the dome. Reservation is also mandatory for Firenze Card holders, about which we will still write.
- Tickets can be purchased online on the official website.
- You can also book the entrance time to the dome (after purchasing the ticket) on the cathedral’s website.
Piazza Duomo and the legend of Rifrullo del Diavolo, or the devil that the priest outwitted
Have you ever felt a breeze of cooler wind on your face when you were in Piazza Duomo? It is said that in winter it increases in strength and becomes even more intense. No one else but the devil, Rifrullo, is responsible for this. According to legend, the devil chose a priest who he wanted to steal his soul from. Before entering Santa Maria Del Fiore, the priest made him an offer – the devil will take his soul away, but he wants to pray for the last time. The devil willingly agreed to this, the priest went inside and walked out the other door unnoticed. In the meantime, the devil, bored with waiting, began to sleep and snore, creating a light wind. When Rifrullo discovered the deception, his breath turned into a real whirlwind, smelling of the bad cold. Since then, Rifrullo has been waiting for a priest to leave Santa Maria Del Fiore…. So much about the devil. We didn’t meet him, even though we spent a lot of time in Piazza Duomo, because it’s one of those places where you can spend a lot of time just sitting there, watching the stunning architecture and enjoying the magical atmosphere of the city.
Florence – what to see? Historical centre – Palzzio Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Loggia dei Lanzi and the Uffizi Gallery
Not far from San Maria Del Fiore is the historical center of Florence with the Vecchio Palace, the former town hall. It was built in the 14th century and its characteristic tower is the next most recognizable element of the Florentine landscape. The tower can be climbed and offers a beautiful panorama of the city. Of course, if you have enough patience to get there. In front of the palace, there is a copy of the statue of David Michelangelo. The Vecchio Palace is located on the huge Piazza della Signoria square, famous for its Neptune fountain and the open sculpture gallery Loggia dei Lanzi, as well as one of the oldest galleries in Europe – the Uffizi Gallery. The collection, still gigantic to this day, was initiated by art lover Leopold Medici. We did not even try to get to it, because we knew that we would be lost for at least a few days. Giotto, Duccio, Pierro Della Francesca, Botticelli, da Vinci, Rafael, Michelangelo, Dürer, Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio and many, many of the most outstanding painters and artists for the price of 30 €. Tickets to the Uffizi Gallery can be booked on the b-ticket page. Please note that you pay for booking a ticket for a specific hour, not for a ticket. We have to appear in person for the ticket – if we don’t do it, it’s gone. A booking fee of 4 € is added to the ticket price for each individual ticket. During the season, please be aware that you may not get tickets without a reservation anymore, so if you want to enter, it is good to pay the extra charge for advance booking online.
Florence – what to see? Santa Maria Novella
If you came to Florence by train, it would certainly be your first stop. Sana Maria Novella is located right next to the main railway station. The Dominican monastery complex is one of the most important monuments of Tuscany. The complex consists of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the monastery museum, the courtyard, the cloister and a fragment of the monastery cemetery. In the 15th century, the façade of the basilica was rebuilt under the direction of Leon Battista Alberti.
- The entrance to the complex is located slightly to the side, at Piazza Della Stazione 4, rather than at Piazza Santa Maria Novella.
- The Officina Profumo – Pharmacist di Santa Maria Novella at Via Della Scala 16 is a 13th-century pharmacy that has preserved its authentic decor and frescos to this day. In the pharmacy, there is a tiny shop with original cosmetics. The entrance to the pharmacy is free, but the prices are astronomical.
FLORENCE – WHAT TO SEE? SAN LORENZO AND THE BIGGEST MARKET IN Florence, A PARADISE FOR CONNOISSEURS?
North of Santa Maria Del Fiore is the district of San Lorenzo, whose main point is the 14th-century basilica of San Lorenzo, Mercato Centrale, the Laurenziana Medicea Library, designed by Michelangelo and Cappelle Medicee. We wanted to buy some souvenirs, but the crowd of people trying to buy something at the market for astronomical prices and pushy sellers effectively discouraged us from doing so. Mercato Centrale is described as a place where we can buy local products – a paradise for connoisseurs. But how it looks like in reality? Well, it had nothing to do with the description, and in the origin of some products, we can doubt that it was from Italy at all. Florence is famous for its leather products, at Mercato Centrale there were plenty of them, and each of them was “unique” and “handmade”. The fact itself gives a lot to think about.
Florence – what to see? Bridge of goldsmiths – Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge over the River Arno, with a history dating back to Etruscan times. It survived the retreat of the German army during World War II, supposedly the Nazis did not have time to fire the explosives. Once there were butcher shops and tanneries, today it is probably the “most expensive” bridge in Italy. In the 16th century, tiny, charming shops were adapted for goldsmiths and jewelry workshops, which today tempt with their products at exhibitions. Above the shops, there is a Vasari corridor that connects Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti.
Florence – what to see? Michelangelo Hill, the most beautiful viewpoint on the whole of Florence.
Michelangelo Hill was our “must to see” in Florence. If like us, you’ve been wondering where all the pictures of Florence’s panorama are taken, then we have an answer for you. Right next to the Boboli gardens there is Piazza Michelangelo and this is where you should come to take the best picture of Florence. Ideally at sunset, because the view is fabulous. Just remember, if you wanna do that in season, come earlier and take a place near the railing because later you will only have the photos of hundreds of Asian tourists heads instead of the beautiful views.
Florence and Ezio Auditore, something for the lovers of Assasin’s Creed
We wouldn’t be who we are if we hadn’t shown the film from the sensational Assassin’s Creed game, which is almost 11 years old but one of the best in the series. While visiting Florence, we always had the Assassin’s Creed scene in our heads. If you don’t know the title yet, we can recommend it.
Sightseeing of Florence – a few words about Firenze Card
Florence is expensive, VERY expensive. Entrances to the attractions were one of the most expensive in Italy, so if you are looking for sightseeing, it is worth to buy a Firenze Card, which is valid for 72 hours and allows us to enter the priority entrance to 72 attractions. It is activated as soon as you enter the first attraction. The Firenze Card costs €72, which is the most expensive card we have ever met. But it is still worth it.
What else should you know or do in Florence?
- Florence is one of those cities where most of the monuments are located in the center and everywhere is relatively close, so it is best to visit it by walking.
- Be sure to see the artists on the Via Calimala!
- The most beautiful view of the Vecchio Bridge is from the Santa Trinita Bridge.
- Walk along the banks of the Arno River, where the real Florence is!
- Visit the gardens of Bobola and Bardini, especially when the wisteria is blooming.
- Rub the snout of the wild boar Porcellino luckily and come back here.
A bunch of useful links at the end
- Practically information about Italy, what to look for to and prepare for, you will find in our guide – Italy practically.
- Our route, which we chose when going to Italy, is described here. You will find there a map and useful information.
- Do you go further on the Italian highways? Check in our article what costs you have to prepare for.
- We wrote about the traffic regulations and parking rules in Italy in this article.
Are you looking for a place to stay in Florence?
We would be pleased if you could use our referral link to BOOKING.COM. You will appreciate the time we spend on running our blog and help us to expand it further. Below you will also find our suggestions for accommodation in Florence.